As we all know, the world is a dangerous and unpredictable place, and some parts of it are more dangerous and unpredictable than others. For years a handful of virtuous nations have been toiling in the world’s peripheral places, from the mountains of Afghanistan and the Swat Valley, from the Euphrates River to the Gaza Strip, in an attempt to bring order, security and democracy to what David Cameron calls the world’s ‘ungoverned spaces’.
Bombings and fullscale invasions; ‘regime change’ and proxy wars; Special Forces and military advisers; acknowledged and unacknowledged extra-judicial executions; assassination-by-drone; torture and ‘extraordinary renditions’; shadowy alliances with ‘terrorist’ organizations in Iran and other countries – all these methods have been part of the Good Nations Club’s selfless efforts to bring the world’s chaotic spaces back into the fold of civilization and globalization, and save them from the dark forces of terrorists, jihadists, narcotraffickers, warlords and gangsters.
Any slacking in these efforts, the members of this elite club insists, will only increase the number of ungoverned, lawless spaces that ‘al Qaeda’ and its cohorts will then transform into ‘terrorist bases’ that threaten its members with dirty bombs, suicide attacks, botulism and WMD.
Just as al Qaeda, to paraphrase Jeff Beck, seeks to be everywhere and nowhere, so the Good Nations Club must do the same, matching it at every turn by sending more bombs and missiles, advisers and weapons systems into the world’s peripheral spaces, whenever a jihadist raises his evil head.
And these efforts are not just about law and order and global security. The members of the Good Nations Club share such a deep love of freedom, such passionate indignation at the slightest whiff of injustice, that they are ready to ‘intervene’ at the drop of a hat, even in countries that are ‘governed’ - when these regimes use violence against ‘their own people’ – even if they have not the slightest idea of what the consequences of their interventions might be.
It’s little more than a year since the West’s former ally Colonel Gaddafi was sodomized with a knife and shot dead n the culminating act of the Good Nations Club’s noble efforts to prevent a massacre in Benghazi – an amusing denouement, which once caused Hilary Clinton to break into schoolgirlish giggles.
One of the leading architects of Gaddafi’s downfall was Nicolas Sarkozy, an ardent member of the Good Nations Club, whose party allegedly received £40 million from the Libyan dictator for his 2007 election campaign. The Libyan civil war has to some extent turned Libya into another of the world’s ungoverned spaces, and fallout from that conflict also spilled into northern Mali, where former Tuareg fighters with Gaddafi’s regime poured across the border newly-armed to the teeth and paved the way for a radical Salafist resurgence that has now become a justification for a fullscale French military intervention in the Sahara.
Now France is saving Mali, just as it once helped save Benghazi. It’s enough to bring a lump in the throat to the most hardened cynic. Well, not all. There will always be killjoys, too jaded to recognize virtue when they see it. Take the French satirical magazine Le Canard Enchainé, which took a rather downbeat view of the French mission in the Sahara, in a report on Francois Hollande’s visit to Abu Dhabi on 14 January to help seal an arms deal with the United Arab Emirates.
Hollande’s sales trip is one of many similar expeditions to the Gulf in recent years by representatives of the Good Nations Club, looking to bolster democratic forces in the region by flogging weaponry to autocracies and absolute monarchies. During his trip Hollande spoke to a pilot of the French Dassault Rafale fighter plane – 60 of which France is seeking to sell to the UAE.
According to Le Canard, Hollande told the pilot that the French intervention in Mali would ‘ show [potential buyers] all the qualities of the Rafale’ and described it as ‘ a very important part of your mission: to demonstrate that French equipment is the most effective … Thank you for your dual role: both operational and … commercial!’
We should not allow Le Canard‘s suggestions of ulterior motives to call the virtues of the Good Nations Club into question. After all, as David Cameron put it, with a typically penetrating analysis of the attack on the Amenas gas facility,
‘ What we face is an extremist Islamist violent al-Qaida-linked terrorist group – just as we have to deal with that in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, so the world needs to come together to deal with this threat in north Africa. It is similar because it is linked to al-Qaida, it wants to destroy our way of life, it believes in killing as many people as it can.’
Confronted with statements like this from one of the GNC’s leading representatives, who could fail to admire the altruism, the concern for the world’s dispossessed, the wisdom, strategic foresight and sense of purpose that binds its members together? For the Good Nations Club, there is no political or security problem that cannot be solved by another war or further militarization.
And even when these problems fail to produce solutions, even when they generate more chaos, more instability and violence or ‘vicious cowardly attacks’ like the one in Algeria, even when interventions by the Good Nations Club act as galvanizing episodes for ‘al Qaeda-linked’ Islamic radicals, its members march on, starry-eyed dreamers straight out of John Lennon’s Imagine, always looking to fill yet another ungoverned space with soldiers, bombs, and missiles.
It’s an obligation – and a self-appointed privilege granted to only a few nations, and you can bet that they will not fail to act upon it, even if it takes years, or ‘decades’ as Cameron now insists will be the case in North Africa.